Agric, Environment & Innovations Editor
Japan has provided more than US$700 000 through UN Women to support Zimbabwe’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic in Guruve and Mbire districts in the northern part of the country.
In a statement, Japan and UN Women said the US$ 740 740 arrangement will help Zimbabwe to contain the pandemic, secure livelihoods and boost the resilience of vulnerable women and girls in Guruve and Mbire Districts.
The project will enhance access to COVID-19 testing and vaccination, spread awareness of COVID-19 prevention and vaccination to over 103 210 people and train 500 women on the production of PPE.
In addition, the project hopes to boost the number of people vaccinated in the two districts to help Zimbabwe meet its vaccination targets.
“Given the humanitarian crisis affecting Zimbabwe, which has been exacerbated by COVID-19, particularly affecting women and girls, there is first a need to find a pathway out of COVID-19 and build a more resilient society,” said Mr Satoshi Tanaka, Japanese ambassador to Zimbabwe.
“This project will enable communities in Mbire and Guruve to take a major step towards overcoming COVID-19 and becoming more resilient to future outbreaks.”
Japan was taking a leading role in the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftershocks, supporting a number of developing countries hardest hit by the pandemic.
Erratic rains in some parts of the country have worsened the food security situation for drought prone areas such as Guruve and Mbire districts, and many others.
The Covid – 19 pandemic and rising prices caused by external shocks brought about by the conflict between Russia and Ukraine have also compounded problems for the poor.
The extent of reach and uptake of the national COVID-19 vaccination programme has been low in Guruve and Mbire districts.
This new project is expected to encourage testing, facilitate social and behaviour change communication and provide PPEs where necessary.
Access to COVID-19 vaccines will be increased in the two districts through the provision of logistical support to vaccination and testing programmes.
Two vehicles for the distribution of medical supplies, as well as new refrigerators to increase the capacity of vaccine storage have been made available to the districts.
In addition, 500 vulnerable women and girls will be empowered to make PPE, including facemasks and soap.
“Existing key drivers of vaccine hesitancy leading to lack of demand for vaccine rollouts need to be challenged. These include myths related to risks of infertility in women, impotency in men, or risk of death based on religious grounds, especially among the apostolic sects prevalent in the area,” said Delphine Serumaga, UN Women country representative.
“It also includes fear of side effects coupled with limited knowledge on what to expect if medical treatment is needed.”
The project, she said, aligns with national, regional and international goals including Sustainable Development Goal 5 on Gender Equality, Goal 3 on Good Health and Wellbeing, as well as NDS1 focusing on gender equality.
Zimbabwe is reporting an average of between 40 and 44 new infections on average each day, about 1 percent of the peak — the highest daily average reported last December.
There have been 247 598 infections and 5 468 coronavirus-related deaths reported in the country since the pandemic began.
The country has a recovery rate of around 98 percent.
Zimbabwe has administered more than two million doses of COVID vaccines so far.
The cumulative numbers of vaccinations since the outbreak of the pandemic in 2020 have now reached 5 831 785 and 3 640 013 for the first and second doses, respectively and 580 135 for the third dose.